Beacon Park Updates (was "Single Track Yard")

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Re: status of single track through beacon yard

Postby dbperry » Mon Sep 12, 2016 4:09 pm

West of CP 4 / Beacon Park / Boston Landing, Track 1 = closer to MassPike (northern most track); Track 2 = closer to neighborhoods (southern most track). If things were always normal and trains always 'kept to the right' then track 1 would always be outbound and track 2 would always be inbound. That isn't the way Framingham-Worcester works, so inbound AM rush hour and outbound PM rush hour trains both use track 2 after CP 4. The explanation on that is here, if you haven't read it yet.

On the east side of CP 3, it's tracks 5 & 7, recently discussed here: viewtopic.php?f=65&t=68949

The new double track through Beacon Park will not be implemented until the double track around Boston Landing is ready. In other words, they won't connect the 'shoo fly' track to the new 'second' mainline through Beacon Park. Everything will get changed over all at once. And, as previously mentioned, apparently the critical path item is the signal equipment / components associated with the relocation of CP 4 to new CP 6 along with the signal components needed for the second mainline track through Beacon Park.
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Re: status of single track through beacon yard

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Wed Feb 15, 2017 5:34 pm

Sticking this bit of news in here because it's a geographical fit...but couldn't think of a more topic-germane thread to bump.


This week's FCMB board presentation had an update on the Mass Pike straightening concepts through Beacon Park. Of particular interest is page 30 linked here...as it appears the CR layover yard on the T's rail easement is shrinking quite a bit, to 8 trainsets from an original 14 and shorn of most of its originally-envisioned crew & maint facilities: http://www.mbta.com/uploadedfiles/About ... df#page=30.

page 15 wrote:MassDOT and Harvard are currently negotiating the mutually acceptable number of storage tracks that can be included in the Allston project
– Fewer tracks provide more land for development
– More tracks provides the MBTA with greater flexibility and opportunities for long-term growth


Well, appears the redev interests are outslugging the train storage interests here. The million-dollar question now becomes "Where else are they going to store trains?", because 8 sets isn't nearly enough to provide relief on the southside with SSX still getting a big push. There has to be parallel negotiations going on for layover space at one of the other preferred-alternative sites that made the Round 2 cut in the SSX Layover Facilities Analysis study in order for MassDOT to be willingly talking to Harvard about more land-bartering around BP. That BP easement was guaranteed to them, so they can't be pressured to give it up against their will through political interference. And, of course, there's no "neighborhood" built yet to pressure them on that front (a la the Brickbottomites re: GLX). If they're talking about land swaps, it's voluntary talks because they see options coming to light somewhere more opportune. (Widett??? BTD tow lot??? Cold storage???)
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Re: status of single track through beacon yard

Postby jonnhrr » Fri Feb 17, 2017 12:08 pm

Transit gets screwed again as usual.

So let's do more development but not provide adequate transportation to accommodate it. The story of urban transportation in the US.

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Re: status of single track through beacon yard

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Sat Feb 18, 2017 6:21 am

jonnhrr wrote:Transit gets screwed again as usual.

So let's do more development but not provide adequate transportation to accommodate it. The story of urban transportation in the US.

Jon


Screwed if there isn't another shoe to drop with parallel negotiations at Widett Circle. That's the key. This doesn't make any sense if it's negotiation in a vacuum on an guaranteed easement they cannot be pressured to give up. But it makes a lot of sense if these are multi-party talks involving trade-in for space better than Beacon Park...and the study did ID the various parcels around Widett as operationally and capacity superior if other parties were willing to facilitate the land acquisition. See the second PDF linked in that post, and scroll to page 19. The total train storage available at Widett if the Food Market and cold storage warehouse were relocated blows away the maximum possible storage on the BP easement: 30 trainsets vs. 14. At far more opportune location that doesn't require burning deadhead slots through Back Bay and Yawkey all day. They not only wouldn't need BP for train storage at all if those parcels became available, but they also wouldn't need Readville for terminal-district storage at all...just the end-of-line layover for Fairmount & Stoughton. That would be enormous...the 100-year solution for southside terminal storage. With the only above-and-beyond capacity add--North-South Rail Link--putting its equivalent terminal yards out by Route 128 instead of downtown. A much smaller BP easement or repurposed Readville could be banked for space for full-service southside maint facility and/or MOW yard instead of storage-storage...functions that wouldn't chew up as many daily deadhead slots.


The state has always wanted Widett most as perma-fix for the SS layover, dating back almost 20 years. And they've been willing to use Massport's Marine Terminal redevelopment as bait to relocate the Food Market to new digs next to the seafood warehouses at end of Southie Haul Road. At superior facilities to the poor land use in the Widett 'bowl' hastily constructed when Mayor White kicked all those vendors out of Faneuil Hall in the early-70's. But the Menino Admin. was over-the-top hostile to the idea, and it became a pile-on with opportunistic Southie city councillors and rudderless Boston Redevelopment Authority. When the Pike straightening opportunity came up, they had to cling to this easement as a default go-it-alone choice because City-level institutions were absolutely useless at basic cooperation. Not because the negotiations would've been extremely difficult, but for simple indifference by the City.

After the collapse of the 2024 Olympics "Midtown" development concept decking over Widett the city and BRA/BDPA never stopped talking about that site. The fatal mistake that upended the Olympic bid redev was that they expected one "Master Developer" to front the entire cost and risk of decking over the Widett 'bowl'. That was an absolutely senseless decision, because roping in MassDOT with a permanent transit easement on the lower level could've underwritten the cost of the decking and not scared the potential developers away. It never occurred to anyone on the Boston 2024 committee to put 2 and 2 together. After all, Cabot Yard on the Red Line was built with tracks spaced for air rights pegs and cover-over for some mid-60's urban renewal tower that never came to fruition at request of the same BRA. They could easily re-space the 24 tracks on the 'bowl' portion of that schematic around similar allowances for air rights pegs and let the property taxes fund an infrastructure bank for constructing the air rights deck. Nope...never considered that. And they also failed to adequately communicate with the Food Market on relocation. Massport was shut out from the B24 committee and couldn't make a sales pitch to the spooked food vendors on Marine Terminal, so the reaction was instantly hostile.


If they've learned anything from the B24 debacle, the parties would be putting their heads together and talking about obvious synergies between the redev interests, the transpo interests, and the commercial interests. City institutions have already spoken remorsefully of the missed opportunities with B24's big whiff @ Widett...such as Mayor Walsh pointing to the need for a better regional food distribution master plan (inspired by NYC's Hunts Point) that upgrades the Food Market's presence rather than just unilaterally looking for lazy land grabs. And the working group behind the Pike realignment (check The Amateur Planner blog for updates, as the author is on the Pike committee) is pushing hard for better street grid connectivity across the realigned Pike...a task severely complicated by the fat midsection of the T easement. If Captain Obvious has gotten the message through a bunch of thick City skulls with the babiest of baby-steps like realizing where B24 screwed the pooch...then the obvious transpo synergies with potential land swaps should by all logic be conversation fodder right now.

If MassDOT's willingness to voluntarily talk about ceding some BP acreage is any indication, these kinds of synergies may...belatedly, at long last...be getting a few returned phone calls from the City. It's early, and it's always prudent to take the City institutions' penchant for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory with generous skepticism...but it makes too much sense that any discussion of BP acreage be rooted in a different set of discussions about trading up elsewhere. If nothing else it's a slown-burn development worth watching when it periodically comes up in FCMB meetings.
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Re: status of single track through beacon yard

Postby harshaw » Mon Apr 03, 2017 7:52 am

Track 2 is now connected through the Boston Landing station. Presumably track 1 is also connected (or will be soon) and the single track days will be over :)
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Re: status of single track through beacon yard

Postby GP40MC1118 » Mon Apr 03, 2017 10:51 am

The track throw at Boston Landing and the retirement of CP4 was this weekend with busing
east of Wellesley Farms. Essentially have two 8 mile single track mains between CP3 & CP11
until CP6 gets built. Access to the Grand Jct/Beacon Park is now a handthrow switch at MP3.8
for now.

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Re: status of single track through beacon yard

Postby dbperry » Mon Apr 03, 2017 12:28 pm

Cab view video from automatic 6 to CP 3 eastbound this AM:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEzubFb3zF0

I'll have a longer blog post with some track diagrams, especially now that it's clear exactly what the arrangement is (at least for the time being).

Interesting notes:
1) The "shoo fly" track was NOT left in place as a freight / lead bypass around the station. I had thought it was going to stay.
2) Remnants of CP 4 were left in place.
3) No signals at the location of former CP 4 at all...which means automatic 6 is now the distant signal to CP 3...effectively a ~3 mile block?!?!?
4) The lead for the Grand Junction is a hand throw switch (I know) with an electric lock (I think). This switch is outside the limits of CP 3.
5) The eastbound track 1 into CP 3 signal is a dwarf signal.

We went through Boston Landing at about 25 mph. I didn't see any temporary speed limit boards. So I'm not sure if there is:
a) temp speed restriction due to track work from this weekend;
b) temp speed restriction due to ongoing station construction; or
c) no speed limit and engineer was just going slow on her first trip over new track (which seems reasonable).

Also, I assume that track 1-2 vs. 5-7 designations still change at CP 3? Track 1 now leads straight to track 7 and track 2 leads straight to track 5.

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Re: status of single track through beacon yard

Postby harshaw » Wed Apr 05, 2017 4:23 pm

Is track 1 usable or being available right now? I haven't been on a train that is using it. Seems like all outbounds are going through Yawkey on track 2.
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Re: status of single track through beacon yard

Postby nomis » Wed Apr 05, 2017 8:28 pm

Yup, all reverse peak service is on Track 1 COVE - CP 22, as peak direction service is on Track 2 COVE -CP 22.
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Re: status of single track through beacon yard

Postby dbperry » Wed Apr 05, 2017 10:31 pm

nomis wrote:Yup, all reverse peak service is on Track 1 COVE - CP 22, as peak direction service is on Track 2 COVE -CP 22.


Keeping all peak service (both AM & PM) on track 2 from COVE to CP 22 keeps the peak trains aligned with the track 2 platforms at the 3 Newton stations, Wellesley Hills, and West Natick. For the reason behind that, see here:
http://framwormbta.weebly.com/blog/why- ... itch-track

With the old single track in Beacon Park, trains could stay on the 'correct' / right hand track from COVE to CP 3, since the single track allowed an effective 'reset' of track usage on either side of the single track. Now, with continuous double track, it doesn't make sense to have everything switch at CP 3 - better to keep everything moving one direction on each track from COVE to CP 22. That prevents having to arrange for precise meets at CP 3.

While I was riding P525 outbound on Wednesday night on track 2, we passed inbound P590 on track 1 in the middle of the former Beacon Park freight yard. So the new double track works!
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Re: status of single track through beacon yard

Postby BandA » Thu Apr 06, 2017 12:30 am

Small pop-up canopy "party tent" shelters set up next to the signal box at Cottage Farm (CP3?) and Brighton (CP5?). Apparently to give some weather protection to folks working on the signals. The one in Brighton looks kinda beat up and is tied between the signal post and the signal box with ropes.
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Re: status of single track through beacon yard

Postby csor2010 » Fri Apr 14, 2017 4:15 pm

CP-6 construction is underway between Brooks & Parsons Street in Brighton. Work seems to have started immediately following the CP-4 cutover.
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Re: status of single track through beacon yard

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Mon Apr 24, 2017 12:24 am

Follow up to this news from Feb. up the page in this thread: viewtopic.php?f=65&t=159177&p=1428960#p1420794.


https://www.bostonglobe.com/business/20 ... story.html

Home to a collection of food wholesalers, the Widett Circle area, between the South End and South Boston, had been primed as a potential site for Boston’s failed Olympics bid. Now, with the area around them undergoing rapid redevelopment, the wholesalers are moving toward putting their 19-acre property in play by bidding for a new home in South Boston.

“Collectively, they all agree there’s probably a long-term better use for Widett Circle than what is there today,” said developer John Hynes, who has teamed up with the wholesalers — New Boston Food Market cooperative — to bid for a parcel in the city’s marine industrial park in South Boston. “What the Olympic committee designed for Widett Circle kind of woke everybody up to the fact this is a pretty good location.”



There's the potential fire behind the smoke from that earlier post re: Harvard and MassDOT negotiating over shedding some acreage in the post- Pike realignment Beacon Park storage easement. It appears the Boston Food Market may indeed be vacating Widett Circle to take up residence in superior environs at Marine Terminal in Southie, which would open up the T's preferred parcel for a much larger terminal district layover right in the Widett bowl. The Globe article only talks about the economic development at Widett and revival of the Olympics plan, but the South Station Expansion layover study concept for that site does include considerations for air rights pegs between the tracks. So the wheeling-and-dealing to get the Food Market out may involve second-stage talks to get the T in at the ground level, as their presence can be a vector for underwriting the future costs of the air rights decking that tops off the train storage with new development (i.e. "fix the glitch" from saddling the developer with decking costs, which killed all developer interest the Olympic "Midtown" concept there). Potentially a best-of-all-worlds development for the stakeholders.

Stay tuned, including monitoring FCMB meetings for the next regularly scheduled presentation on SSX/layover options/Pike realignment as they'll probably update their slides for the possibility of Widett being in-play. There are still a lot of moving parts here, and institutions (City Hall, City Council, BDPA/BRA) who could very easily get in the way. But if the Food Market can be cleanly moved, the wheeling-and-dealing over transpo interests @ Widett and Beacon Park could get hot and heavy as stakeholders discuss their land-swap options.
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Re: status of single track through beacon yard

Postby BandA » Mon Apr 24, 2017 12:34 am

I would like to see the T retain all the property they can at Beacon Park. Who knows what the next 20-50 years will bring.

How much land did the B&A need for passenger train storage and service at their peak, say 1910? What about the other southside lines? What if Amtrak's Acela replacement takes off? What if the "T" wants to electrify some lines, they would need more space. Or if they saturate the Framingham-Worcester line with Worcester, Framingham and "Indigo" service?
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Re: status of single track through beacon yard

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Mon Apr 24, 2017 8:10 am

See the FCMB slides linked in the post from February...particularly this one: http://www.mbta.com/uploadedfiles/About ... df#page=15. Beacon Park's easement has already shrunk from 14 to 8 trainsets in the latest Pike straightening design, which isn't very much as today's southside is short 6 trainsets' worth of midday terminal district storage (to get much worse with any service increases). The cut-down BP won't even serve a fully schedule-expanded Worcester Line in 10 years. Widett can store 24 trainsets in the bowl on the Food Market parcel, while baking in space allowances between tracks for air rights decking support pegs (if that "Midtown" narnia should ever graduate from vaporware). Relocate the cold storage facility along with the Food Market, a semi-necessity if all the other warehouses is going away, and that's +6 trainsets for a total of 30.

Two-dozen pure storage stub-ends is larger than BET. So large that Readville Yard 2 will no longer be needed at all for shuffling day storage and shift changes, and can revert to just being the Fairmount & Stoughton end-of-line layover. Freed up from terminal district storage duty, Readville's slack space can end up absorbing MOW or Service & Inspection responsibilities more appropriate for the location. And keep in mind, they still have the recycling center easement next door at Yard 2 that they can boot if they need to build a full-service maint facility (for electrics, etc.) there. And still have Readville Yard 5 with all that acreage in the middle of the loop if they're willing to go to war with the Dedham NIMBY's over a sound wall...still more places to stick a southside heavy repair facility or a catch-all southside MOW yard (work equipment a la Alewife, one-stop shopping for the ballast & tie piles, etc.).

The only exponential service expansion post-SSX that'll tap out the storage available in the 'bowl' is North-South Rail Link. And NSRL's storage will be out in the suburbs because of the 128-to-128 & 495-to-128 nature of the run-thru services, so won't require more yard space in Boston-proper. Woburn town dump is where the next "terminal district" layover is going to be for that...and other mid-line places elsewhere. Framingham, Billerica, Walpole...places near connecting branches like the Framingham Secondary, Middleboro Secondary, and Stony Brook & Lowell Branches...are where the next slate of S&I and MOW facilities are going to go.

If they secure full use of the Widett parcel and retain the land they already own at the Readvilles, they have their 100-year solution for CBD storage and won't need anything in Beacon Park other than easements for appropriately generous passing tracks and somewhere to can movements being staged on/off the Grand Junction. There'll still be a decent amount of space just because of the way the straightened Pike still has to curve, so a small Alewife-style MOW facility would still be in the cards. But they have no reason to sit on it when there aren't enough things that can exhaust their Readville land usage (or lack thereof) in the next half-century. Valuable acreage to trade to Harvard, and the Pike straightening can be a little straighter and more compact still leaving less of a gash between BU West Campus and Harvard-Allston on the street grid. No-brainer to do the sell-high to Harvard IF they get all the space provisions they want @ Widett with no institutional interference from the city.
Last edited by CRail on Mon Apr 24, 2017 11:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Quoting the previous post to its entirety.
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